Hitting the Bottle
First thing in the morning, I think about it. Last thing before bed, I turn to it. It gives me comfort, warmth, and a feeling of well-being. I’ve started hitting the bottle. I broke new ground yesterday when, for the first time, I smuggled the bottle into the car. I stashed it beside my driving foot as I taxied to 2 schools. I felt naked, staggering from car to school gate to retrieve my flat mate’s daughter, minus my trusty bottle. Bottie awaited my return to the car. “She’s not hurting anything,” I rationalized. “I’m sure other people drive with their bottles, too.”
15 minutes later, we arrive at Fiona and Finley’s school. Once again, I leave Bottie next to the driver's side door in the Honda. “She’ll be fine without me. Or rather, I’ll be fine without her. I can survive another 10 minutes without Bottie.” The muddled thoughts of an addict. Am I addicted? I do feel a quiet pull, an urge -the need for Bottie.
Back at the house, I cradle Bottie and lovingly set her on the bench (Kiwi for “counter”). I can top her up later. Right now, I’ve another addiction to feed: The Pumpkin Thing. Oh, yeah – a quarter chunk of fresh, orange pumpkin rests in the fridge, begging for transformation. Total gourd makeover. “What shall I be today?” says Pumpkin. “Fairy princess? Barack Obama? An All Black [NZ’s rugby team]?” Hmmm… I consult cooks.com for inspiration, maybe even for a recipe I’ll obey (I rarely follow recipes, regarding them more as kernels of ideas than a fully-popped bag ‘o corn). I microwave the pumpkin wedge into submission to soften its hard flesh. The kitchen starts to smell like American Thanksgiving, like Christmas, like comfort. I discard the stringy bits, then scoop and mash as Amy’s 5-year-old daughter watches from the other side of the bench. I separate rind from orange flesh, flicking bits of green into the sink. How a country as civilized as New Zealand can fail to provide residents opportunities to buy canned, pureed pumpkin is beyond my grasp.
I make a loaf of pumpkin-oat-chocolate bread and a batch of pumpkin-raisin muffins. Now, I can return to Bottie. I fill the jug (electric kettle), boil water and refill the rubber reservoir. Accompany me to the couch, my hot, sweet one. The Boyfriend, Pete, would later ask, “Am I being replaced?” Uh, not yet. There’s a fly in this warm-water ointment:
I visit my physiotherapist (physical therapist) friend the next morning to treat the source of my Bottie addiction: a badly sprained ankle - injured more than a week ago while running at The Mount. Michelle examines my bloated “cankle” (the melding of an ankle and a calf- last seen 6 years ago, when I was pregnant with Finley) and says, “It actually looks worse than when I saw you last week.” I disclose my addiction - I’ve been hitting the bottle. “Oh,” she says. “Since it’s still swollen, I wouldn’t recommend heat. Apply ice until the swelling goes down.” Great. I’ve been decimating my already-munted ankle, inflamed capillary by inflamed capillary.
|Farewell for now, old friend|
I return home and drain the water from Bottie, leaving her cold, blue and flaccid. Sorry, pal. I’m sure we’ll rendez-vous another day, though I hope not too soon.
I have a new couch buddy: She’s cold and bumpy and makes the blood vessels around my cankle constrict with icy pleasure. She looks like a half-used bag of frozen corn, but she’s much more than that: each of her kernels harbors a tiny therapeutic aid. Come here, Cornie – we have a date.